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LENOX HILL

Is This the Perfect Boot Camp for Co-op Boards?

Written by Bill Morris on June 17, 2019

Lenox Hill, Manhattan

Gerry Maughan’s stint on a town council prepared him for board service.

A Fairy Tale About a Co-op Full of Happy People

Written by Marianne Schaefer on July 25, 2018

Lenox Hill, Manhattan

A visionary board and supportive shareholders add up to “unique” harmony.

Lenox Hill Co-op Gets the Ultimate Face-Lift

Written by Paula Chin on September 19, 2017

Lenox Hill, Manhattan

Reskinning replaces leaky white bricks with handsome red ones.

Reskinning an Albatross

Written by Paula Chin on September 04, 2017

Lenox Hill, Manhattan

Co-op board removes leaky white bricks and reskins its entire building. 

For such a relatively rare real-estate instrument, ground leases have been in the news a fair bit lately. And now the shareholders of Trump Plaza, at 167 East 61st Street in Manhattan, are getting news they might prefer to live without. As Bloomberg Businessweek reports, the family that owns the land beneath the 31-year-old luxury co-op wants to sell it — and the $185 million that the co-op board offered could hit some residents with an assessment of more than $1 million each. “People are calling me to stop this from happening,” said attorney Adam Leitman Bailey, principal of his namesake firm, who has been contacted by some owners wanting to keep the sale, and the assessment, from happening. But equally concerning is how much the ground-lease rent would go up another, outside buyer. In that scenario, the board projects, a monthly maintenance fee of $2,100 would increase to $9,800 when the lease resets in 20124.

A doorman who helped save the life of an elderly tenant trapped in her apartment for two days with a broken hip. A porter who collapsed on smoke-filled stairs after having helped get residents out of their apartments during a fire. An engineer and former New York City Department of Buildings inspector who became the super for a six-building, 1,700-apartment complex. They and 18 other city residential and office workers each took home a prize as the best in their categories in the 2014 Building Service Workers Awards.

The St. Tropez Condominium at 340 East 64th Street in Manhattan appears to be a nice place to live. The historic 34-story building — famous in real-estate circles as the first condominium in New York City and probably New York State, completed a year after passage of the state's Condominium Act of 1964 — sits in the tony Lenox Hill neighborhood of the Upper East Side, and boasts a pool, a gym, a garage, a roof deck and a children's playroom among its amenities. According to one survey, its 301 apartments sell for an average of nearly $2 million each.

So why would its condo association hold a homeowners meeting in a vacant commercial space with uneven floors rather than in a nice, safe community room or somewhere similar? Because it just seems that if the board members had only asked themselves that question they could have avoided all the unpleasantness that followed.

Just when you think you've heard every claim a New York City shareholder can make against a co-op board, along comes a shareholder who makes an allegation so out of left field, it's not even from the Yankees' or the Mets' left field but from the left field of, I dunno, Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. 

The claim? That a co-op employee owed him a fiduciary duty to take his side in a dispute ... because they were sleeping together.

Recent news affecting co-op / condo buyers, sellers, boards and residents. This week: Can we talk? I mean, what kind of world is it where a comedy icon who personally takes on the work of being condo-board president has to deal with some broad who's $200,000 in arrears and throwing insults like Don Rickles in drag? Oh, please. Elsewhere, some condo boards want to act like co-op boards when it comes to admissions. And there's a twist in the Dakota Apartments discrimination case. For boards, we've news on a big battle in the New York Attorney General's fight against illegal hoteling, and watch out! There are toilets exploding in Brooklyn! Actually, it's not funny — one co-op shareholder needed 30 stitches. Still, it's kind of funny. But not really.

Joan Rivers' tragic and untimely death not only deprived the world of a comic genius but also — can we talk? — a condo board president. And she surely would have liked to have known that her and her board's long-running battle with eccentric resident Elizabeth Hazan, who owed $200,000 in arrears, has ended. The story has more twists than a European road — Hazan had signed her apartment at The Spencer over to a Belize-based corporation, a judge in November forbade her access to the place, and much more went on — and the insults got extremely personal on both sides. But the day of Rivers' death, just before she passed, the New York Daily News reported that her board and Hazan reached a settlement after three hours of negotiation before a judge. It's nice to think of Joan, out there somewhere, having the last laugh.

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